The USACA AGM was generally bereft of ideas, a participant who was at the meeting told DreamCricket.com on condition of anonymity.
By Venu Palaparthi
The USACA Annual General Meeting was generally bereft of ideas, a participant who was at the meeting told DreamCricket.com on condition of anonymity. There were roughly 16 attendees at the AGM including a handful of league presidents, he added. Interim CEO Nabeel Ahmed, 1st Vice President Michael Gale and South East Regional Representative Owen Grey were absent at the AGM. USACA Treasurer John Thickett attended by phone.
The number of attendees and the tone of the meeting were both a far cry from the 2010 edition, which saw greater participation amidst an optimistic outlook for USA cricket.
As has become the norm at recent USACA meetings, hotel security was instructed to block the entry of certain people. Leighton Greenidge, President of the Southern Connecticut Cricket Association and until recently the chairman of the erstwhile USACA North East Region, was denied access.
Just for comparison, my league's AGM is attended by over 100 eager participants. Other US-based national level cricket organizations including United States Youth Cricket Association and American Cricket Federation (ACF) have held meetings during 2012 that were generally more inclusive, featured a constructive agenda and encouraged divergent views. In stark contrast to the USACA AGM, the ACF meeting was open to the public and participants were asked to join in-person, via WebEx or through a conference bridge.
The most important topic on everyone's mind at the AGM was the status of the T20 league. According to the DreamCricket.com source, USACA President Gladstone Dainty was hopeful that the league would be launched and left the participants with the impression that more details would be shared in a month or so. If you thought that cleared the air on this very important topic, please hold your breath. ESPNcricinfo reported yesterday that stakeholders were informed by Dainty that the board's partnership with the primary investor was nearing an end, a claim that the investor aparently denied.
Updates were provided at the AGM by the President, the Treasurer and from three of the four functioning regions. To the utter dismay of those in attendance, Dainty handed out a document dated September 9, 2008, titled "A Vision for USACA" and told those assembled that the document remained as valid in 2012 as it did in 2008. Before you jump to conclusions that this reflects the President's far-sighted vision, you must spare a thought to the other possibility - USACA's inability to deliver.
In 2008, Dainty wrote of the need for USACA to adhere to a few tenets (1) a short term business plan (2) a long term business plan (2) player development and (4) marketing and promotions. Under Dainty's leadership, these 'tenets' remain largely unfulfilled. If you are in the mood to cut some slack, let us move the dial back some more. Cricinfo's Deb Das presciently wrote in 2004, "It is not clear that the USACA even knows how to proceed on a national basis with such goals. There are no professional marketers or sports managers at the board or executive level in the USACA, and no indication that there will be any in the near future."
At the very minimum, Dainty should have revised the 2008 document and set new expectations. The 2008 document still talks about a team participating in ICC sponsored ODI matches by 2013. And how about the goal that talks of a national championship with marketing, TV and other media coverage? What has USACA delivered on this vision? Why is it that American College Cricket was able to achieve some of the same objectives in a much shorter period but not USACA?
The Atlantic Region's report should give everyone an indication of what the regions were able to accomplish during 2012, a year in which no national tournaments were held. The report makes it clear that the region has chosen to duplicate efforts instead of strengthening existing programs. As an example, the region describes an initiative to introduce cricket to Maryland's public schools beginning with Prince George's County. Well, that's a novel idea... except that the US Youth Cricket Association (USYCA) has already made considerable headway with schools in Prince George's County and, for good measure, the following other Maryland counties as well - Baltimore, Wicomico, Howard, Carroll, Queen Anne’s and Kent.
The Atlantic Region's proposal was devoid of concrete timelines. The words "TBD," "Funding Needed," or "submitted proposal" appear on most slides. Thankfully for USYCA, its efforts have been recognized by folks outside of the regional administration. As far back as 2010, USYCA's Prince George's County program was featured in an article in the Bowie Patch (read here - Part 1, 2). USACA would be glad to know that USYCA received $63,000 in donations in its very first year including $22,000 from Appleseed Foundation.
The Treasurer's Report by Thickett confirmed what we have read in the news recently. USACA had a 2011 net deficit of $1.9 million and a receivable of $1.5 million.
The 100-day Plan itself did not come up for discussion, according to the DreamCricket.com source. However, some of the themes were touched upon.
On the topic of the CEO, the participants were told that USACA had shortlisted four candidates and that a CEO would be announced once the interview process was completed. In a press release titled 'Status Report - USACA 100 Day Plan' dated October 5, 2012, USACA noted that they had shortlisted five candidates and expected to select a final candidate by October 19, 2012. In summary, there has been little progress. Likewise, no plans were put forth by compliance and governance committees.
At the 2009 AGM, the USA Cricket Umpires Association (USACUA) was tasked with creating a representative and inclusive umpires federation that was in step with aspirations of umpires across the country. USACUA provided an update at Saturday's AGM outlining progress and Dainty acknowledged that the organization needed to be supported. This perhaps was one of the few bright spots during the AGM.